Here’s a reminder as election day nears: direct mail voter guides from seemingly innocuous organizations are a bad resource for making ballot decisions.
A tip from a reader in this morning’s email about Judge Gary Kreep’s presence on the ‘Election Digest, a Project of the Coalition for Literacy’ slate mailer prompted me to post an updated version of the warning I made prior to the primary.
Kreep is an eccentric ultra-conservative who made it to the bench in 2012 because nobody thought he’d be taken seriously. “Everybody knew” he was a birther, associated with conspiracy crazed tea party types. “Everybody knew” Kreep’s peers at the San Diego County Bar Association rated him “Lacking Qualifications,” the lowest rating in their evaluation system for judges up for election.
Except everybody didn’t know, and with a bit of name recognition building like slate mailers and a sub-rosa robocall effort from ‘Taxpayers for Safer Neighborhoods,’ voters took a look at the unfortunately named options on the ballot, opting for Kreep over Garland Peed.
It was a close call, enabling me to write a column about the back and forth lead changes entitled: Peed Dribbles Past Kreep in Closely Watched Judicial Race.
Kreep won by a handful of votes.
His term on the includes being censured by the nonpartisan California Commission on Judicial Performance for campaign violations in 2012, and for bias, sexual harassment, and abuse of authority (among other things) in office. The Washington Post cast shade on San Diego’s legal establishment with a story entitled: ‘Birther’ judge Gary Kreep accused of making crude and racist comments is still on the bench. For now.
Virtually every organization to the left of the San Diego County Republican Party (which endorsed him) is backing Deputy DA Matt Brower effort to unseat Kreep. When you see the San Diego County Deputy Sheriffs Association and the San Diego Free Press endorsing the same candidate, it should be safe to assume something’s amiss.
Pay attention people. Gary Kreep’s campaign paid $5197 to the Election Digest on September 24th.
He’s listed second on the Election Digest mailer, right between Democratic candidates Eleni Kounalakis (Lt. Gov.) and Kevin Beiser (SDUSD Board of trustees).
Slate mailers like Election Digest are a fact of life on the political landscape of California. Some use confusing names, hoping to make voters think they’re associated with an organization, like COPS Voter Guide or the Woman’s Voice Newsletter.
The law requires these mailers to include disclaimers, and if you look hard enough you’ll find them.
As I said last spring:
Here’s the deal: slate mailer campaigns are most effective with voters who are less engaged and informed. And best of all, for campaigns with limited budgets, they’re cheap.
From a study published in 2001 in the Journal of Law & Politics:
Although some of the causes advocated on a slate mailer — presidential, senatorial and gubernatorial candidates and an occasional well-publicized proposition — are typically known to voters, most of the candidates and propositions on the slate are not. By means of the prominent causes that are advocated and the symbols and messages contained on the slate, the slate identifies itself with a broader cause or point of view.
Since I know there’s plenty of interest in judicial contests in this election, thanks in no small part to the hearings on Judge Brett Kavanaugh’s nomination to the Supreme Court, let me direct readers to our more comprehensive overview, which includes guidance on State Supreme Court and Appellate Judge appearing on the general election ballot.
Here’s a list of online voter guides and endorsements
San Diego County Democratic Party
San Diego County Republican Party (I’m assuming you’re curious about who NOT to vote for)
Courage Campaign has a chart listing 10 liberal/progressive/labor organizations with positions on the 11 State Ballot Propositions.
CALmatters has an interactive site covering the California State Propositions
Voice of San Diego –podcast explaining state ballot propositions, plus a guide to local measures.
San Diego Union-Tribune
San Diego Indivisible Downtown Midterm Voter Guide
Defending Our Future: Indivisible in CA 52nd District -spreadsheet comparing endorsements by local publications and organizations.
San Diego City Beat
San Diego and Imperial Counties Labor Council
San Diego Democratic Socialists of America
Finally, may I suggest The San Diego Free Press General Election Progressive Voter Guide, featuring websites, social media links plus more than three dozen candidate endorsements, along with yea or nay on 23 state, county, and city propositions. Don’t vote without it.
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